This is the first post in the Blessing Sisters story. Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my direct ancestor. I’ve previously written posts about her son, Leonard James Winney and his wife, Elizabeth Wellman Winney.
Note: As of November 26, 2019, I was given access to 1 original letter from Lewis Blessing in Virginia to his son John in Ohio; and 6 original letters from Abraham Blessing to his family in Ohio from Missouri and Wisconsin. I will be updating this post to reflect the new information.
The Blessing family in Virginia
We don’t know why Abraham Blessing ended up in Wisconsin Territory around 1830 with his young daughters, Elizabeth Jane and Anna Eliza, in tow. Perhaps this third son, born into a prosperous German immigrant family in 1794, took the best of the opportunities available to him at the time.
While his parents, brothers and sisters were settling down in Greene County, Ohio, Abraham chose a riskier path for his family.
I thought learning about Abraham’s family, and how he grew up, might help me better understand the journey he embarked on with his family, and how it affected his daughters’ lives. I came across conflicting information for Abraham’s parents’ early years so my story begins with Abraham, my 4th Great Grandfather.
Abraham’s parents, Lewis Blessing and Elizabeth Bartsherrer, were married on July 23, 1792 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. (1) Abraham’s siblings were Jacob (1792-1825), John (1793-1864), Mary (1797-1877), and Elizabeth (1806-1900).
According to the History of Greene County, Ohio: its people, industries and institutions, published in 1918, “the Blessings had a good property in Virginia, but [their] growing hatred for the institution of slavery…prompted them to seek a new home in a free state and it was decided to move to Ohio. [I]n 1816 the elder son, John Blessing(2)…was sent west to pick out a place for settlement.”(3)
The book goes on to say that John chose land west of Xenia in Greene County, Ohio. Xenia is in the western part of the state, close to present-day Dayton, Ohio. Lewis Blessing, along with his wife, daughters, and oldest son, joined John in 1824.
There is no mention of Abraham moving to Ohio with his family, so it appears that he stayed in Virginia, although I’ve been unable to confirm for how long. Once settled in Greene County, Ohio, his siblings are fairly well documented through biographical sketches, as well as land, probate, marriage, and other records, making their information easier to verify.
Abraham does make a brief appearance in one line of a biographical sketch of the Blessing family in Ohio, “The mother [Mary Blessing Lucas] of our subject [John B. Lucas] was one of five children: Jacob; Abraham; John, who served as a private in the war of 1812; Mary and Elizabeth.”(4)
Abraham Blessing Stays Behind
Unsourced family trees on Ancestry.com presume that Abraham’s wife was Eliza Wolf. I have been unable to corroborate this through my own research.
What is certain is that Abraham and his wife had two daughters, Elizabeth Jane and Anna Eliza (my 3rd Great grandmother). Elizabeth was born on 22 December 1822(5), and Anna on 25 August 1826(6), both in Virginia.
In 1825, Abraham’s father, Lewis, and brother, Jacob, passed away within a month of each other; Jacob on 13 July(7), and Lewis on 24 August(8). Perhaps Lewis fell ill and was concerned he wouldn’t survive, because nine days before his death he wrote (or revised) his last will and testament.
Although in Ohio less than a year before his death, Lewis Blessing’s will shows that his family had continued their prosperity in their new home. His wife; son John: and daughters Mary, and Elizabeth enjoyed a flush inheritance: cash on hand; nearly 500 acres; dwellings; barns; livestock; farm tools; wagons; many furnishings; and other possessions.
Abraham isn’t left out completely. Lewis does “bequeath and devise to my son Abraham, Five Hundred Dollars, to him and his heirs forever, so soon as the same can be collected, without interest.”(9) There is no evidence that Abraham took advantage of this, or that he even knew about his inheritance.
It makes sense that Lewis would reward the children who settled with him in Ohio, and helped maintain the family’s wealth and stature. That he offered Abraham a token inheritance, rather than cut him out completely, makes me hope that Lewis and his middle son parted on good terms.
Click here for Part 2.
Fully cited sources can be found on the Blessing Sisters Story Cited Sources page. Below are the footnotes for Part 1 of the series.
- (“Shenandoah County Marriage Bonds, 1772 – 1850” 2006)
- John was the brother who went to Ohio to scout land, but he wasn’t the eldest son. Jacob, who died in 1825 in Xenia a year after arriving, was older.
- (Michael A. Broadstone 1918, pp 149-150)
- (George F. Robinson 1902, p 538)
- (“Elizabeth Blessing Basford Obituary,” Michael A. Winney 2007 pg 46)
- (“Anna Blessing Winney Obituary,” Michael A. Winney 2007, pg 45)
- (Find A Grave memorial page for Jacob Blessing)
- (Find A Grave memorial page for Lewis Blessing)
- (“Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786 – 1998” 2015)